Day 12 of #ampersandaug16 is map. I love a good #bookandmap, especially if the map helps explain a central part of the book, like this map of the prison cell.

When I first started dating my husband, my understanding of the Dominican Republic consisted of my ability to locate it on a map. However, since his mom was born there and spent her formative years in the DR, I wanted to learn more about the pace that defined much of his existence. One of the first books about the Dominican Republic that my husband recommended that I read was In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. This books still haunts me to this day, 14 years later. It is a tragic story, as Alvarez creates a fictionalized retelling of the famous Las Mariposas, the four Maribel sisters, who stood against the cruel dictator Trujillo. The book tells of life for the four sisters, Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa, and Dede, before that fateful, famous day in November 1960 when three bodies were found at the bottom of a cliff and their deaths were ruled accidental. What made this book so meaningful was Alvarez’s ability to make the Maribel sister’s seem accessible; flawed individuals, living heroic lives, Alvarez focused on the personal and wrote each sister as a distinct individual rather than just part of a whole. I could easily relate to these women, even though I knew that their heroism was nearly superhuman. One of the things that Alvarez did well, was make the Mirabel sisters like and respect Trujillo at first and then slowly learn the truth about him. This helps them seem more relatable as flawed humans, rather than just political revolutionaries. The flashbacks in the book kept me strongly invested in the story and by the time the sisters were in prison I was deeply invested. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone, it provides action, emotion, and relevance.